State Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra and opponent J.M. Lozano appear in a dead heat following early voting totals submitted to the Texas Secretary of State. Ybarra is hoping to hang on to her HD-43 seat in the Texas House. Early voting numbers from the district in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have Rios Ybarra barely trailing the Kingsville businessman.
Rios Ybarra is a South Padre Island dentist who has consistently defended her moderate views in light of accusations hurled by Lozano that she is a “closet Republican.”
The district covers six counties — Jim Hogg, Brooks, Willacy, Kenedy, Kleberg and northern Cameron — and about a third of the families with children live in poverty. Nearly 40 percent of residents have less than a high school education.
Rios Ybarra was quite successful at raising money for her re-election bid. Finance reports filed with the Texas Secretary of State reflect that from Jan. 1, 2009 to Feb. 20 of this year she was able to haul in about $424,000. During the same time frame she spent about $260,000. Lozano raised about $278,000 and spent about $146,000.
Rios Ybarra was first elected to the Texas House in 2008 after she defeated then-incumbent Juan Escobar. She previously served as a council member for the City of South Padre Island and is a native of Corpus Christi.